If you're going to play in the Pacific Division, you're going to head to the ocean eventually. Somehow Texas managed to stave off their first road trip to California until nearly December. They'll be back twice in January and again in February. What nice scheduling! Some ocean air during the coldest months of the year? Sounds nice. Turns out that ocean air suits the Victory Green-clad Stars pretty well.
The first and most notable item among the notes on the trip is the wins. The Stars are going to be playing more games than these teams over the course of the season (76 v. 68) so every win against them counts "more", if you will, due to it preventing those teams from gaining a higher points percentage.
Texas is doing well on the road so far in the season with a 7-4-0-1 record. That, of course, also highlights their 5-4 home record.
The Stars are scoring a lot but they are letting in quite a few as well. Their 66 goals against on the season is the highest in the division but they also lead the league in goals per game.
And finally, Devin Shore is on a seven-game point streak and just had a six-game goal streak broken up against San Jose. There are rookie offensive weapons developing all over the lineup from Shore to Esa Lindell (6-11=17) and Jason Dickinson (5-10=15). Also of note, Lindell and Mattias Backman are tied for third in the league in plus/minus at plus-11 each.
Two games into the road trip, Texas picked up two solid wins. The Stars pushed around the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks) Wednesday evening in southern California. After two periods, Texas led 4-0. The Gulls found some life after the second intermission, potting a quick three goals to come within one of the tie. The captain, Travis Morin, cashed in to put the game finally out of reach.
Jack Campbell got his second start in as many games and picked up his third win of the season with 17 saves on 20 shots.
The Stars were efficient in many ways in the game: 1-for-3 power play, perfect if untested penalty kill thanks to only taking one penalty, and outshooting their opponents 35-20.
Esa Lindell opened the scoring in the first period on the power play. Brendan Ranford followed up with an individual effort to make it 2-0 after one. Devin Shore scored his team-leading 13th of the season and Justin Dowling dropped his sixth for the 4-0 lead after two.
In the first seven minutes of the third, San Diego reinvigorated the hometown fans with three goals. Travis Morin cut that off at the pass to set the final at 5-3.
Devin Shore scored a pair to extend his lead in the AHL scoring race to 15, but the Stars ultimately fell 5-4 in their first ever contest with the San Jose Barracuda (San Jose Sharks). The goals extended the rookie's scoring streak to six games. The game keyed on five minutes in the second period that saw Texas' 3-1 lead evaporate thanks to three quick goals from the Barracuda.
Maxime Lagace took the loss with a 28 save effort.
Texas claimed an early lead that they never relinquished Sunday afternoon in San Jose as they triumphed over the Barracuda by a 3-2 final mark. While Devin Shore's scoring streak ended at six games, his assist on the game-winning goal extended his point streak to seven games.
Curtis McKenzie scored off a lucky deflection off the skate of San Jose goalie Troy Grosenick just 45 seconds into the contest. San Jose would score off the stick of former Rampage forward Scott Timmins to knot things up at one at the exact midpoint of the game.
The Stars potted two tallies just 15 seconds apart to put the game away in the second. Radek Faksa created a turnover and finished it off with a breakaway goal at 13:16 of the second. Brendan Ranford would tap in a loose puck for the 3-1 lead at 13:31.
San Jose added another just two minutes later but John Muse shut the door in the third for his fifth win of the season.
The Week Ahead
Texas plays three games this week, despite what your magnet schedule might say. Tonight, the Rockford IceHogs (Chicago Blackhawks) will visit Cedar Park. Previously, the Stars were scheduled to play the Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) on Friday and Sunday. Friday's game was rescheduled to October 27th, a game Texas lost in the shootout. Sunday's game stands. Texas will return home to play the IceHogs again next Tuesday.
Remi Elie and Derek Hulak have been out with upper body injuries. Elie is expected to return tonight. Jason Dickinson missed the final game of the road trip against San Jose with a lower body issue and his status is up in the air for this week's games.